American intellectuals and a Venezuelan politician debate the construction of a society from below
Renowned American intellectual Noam Chomsky, Dr. Michael Albert, and Venezuelan Julio Chávez, a former mayor, discussed the possibilities of constructing a society from below. The debate took place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was organized by the Consulates of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Boston and New York.
Moderated by Gregory Wilpert, writer and director of Venezuelanalysis.com, the guests explored, among other topics, the achievements and challenges of the Venezuelan revolutionary process in this matter. As Wilpert indicated, since President Hugo Chávez’s first election in 1998, cooperatives in Venezuela have been multiplying and creative models of participation have been implemented, such as community councils. Nevertheless, “there are many questions to answers. For example, how to avoid having the movement co-opted by other interests,” he said.
Without attempting to give an absolute answer, Julio Chávez, the former mayor of Torres municipality in the state of Lara and member of the Presidential Commission for Communal Power, offered concrete examples of achievements made by organized communities in that municipality, which also organized a municipal constituent assembly.
For his part, Albert emphasized the importance of breaking market logic as a step towards building this new society. As an example, he referred to Venezuelan government programs such as the “discount heating oil” program, the Petrocaribe initiative, and the Bolivarian government’s social missions.
Chomsky, also known as the father of modern linguistics, stressed the importance of organizations versus isolation in order to achieve the development of progressive movements and strengthen the weakest sectors of society. He further highlighted the value of the state in promoting new social and economic models. “The world’s greatest innovations have been driven by some state. Look at the role of the American state in the growth of the computer, aeronautics, pharmaceutical industries. This is not a socialist state, but it has elements of being close to one that many do not want to recognize,” the philosopher noted.
Over 300 students and members of nearby communities attended the debate.
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / March 20, 2009